The Sigma Phi Epsilon chapter at UCLA is currently receiving criticism for a party held on Tuesday night (October 6) with the Alpha Phi sorority on campus, as reported by the Daily Bruins, the UCLA campus newspaper.
Some of the students at UCLA are outraged at Sigma Phi Epsilon and Alpha Phi because the theme chosen for the party was seen as racist and insensitive to black culture.
The theme of the Sigma Phi Epsilon raid in question was "Kanye Western," and the students of the Bruins community are scandalized because some of those in attendance at the function allegedly arrived at the event wearing baggy clothes, using fake butt implants, and dressing as members of the Kardashian family. Some of the UCLA students felt that these outfits were offensive and that Sigma Phi Epsilon and Alpha Phi had the intention of being racist.
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The students of the Afrikan Student Union are enraged at the incident and their peers for the fraternity's "racially insensitive" costumes. They felt that the party theme was derogatory, and a group of students from the organization even stood outside of the Sigma Phi Epsilon house demanding an end to the revelries.
CBS Los Angleles reports that UCLA has released a statement in response to the incident.
"We are concerned about these allegations and earnestly working to gather information about what occurred, talking to all those involved. While we do not yet have all the facts, the alleged behavior is inconsistent with good judgment as well as our principles of community. We remind students that while they are free to celebrate in ways that draw on popular culture, their specific choices can cause harm and pain to fellow members of their community. Put simply: Just because you can do something does not mean you should."
The national headquarters of the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity also released a statement in response to the function.
"The national office of Sigma Phi Epsilon is investigating claims that its UCLA chapter hosted an inappropriately themed social event with Alpha Phi Sorority. The Fraternity is aware of images of female guests dressed in offensive and racially insensitive outfits. We have asked our UCLA chapter to temporarily suspend activities and work with our office and university staff to determine the facts of the event and the appropriate path forward. Building diverse and inclusive communities is core to our identity as an organization, and we have zero tolerance for racist behavior. Sigma Phi Epsilon will continue to work with the university and UCLA community to investigate these claims and hold students accountable for any inappropriate behavior."
There has been no comment yet from the presidents or individual members of the Sigma Phi Epsilon and Alpha Phi UCLA chapters.
A protest hosted by the Afrikan Student Union was scheduled to take place on campus at the Bruin Bear statue at noon today. Those who would attend the demonstration were encouraged to wear black, and the social media hashtag #BlackBruinsMatter was used to help spread the word. The organization described the Sigma Phi Epsilon party as a "racial incident" and planned to confront the issue at their rally.
The student newspaper interviewed some of the students on campus to ask their opinion of the events that took place at the Sigma Phi Epsilon house. Fourth-year student Jaimeson Cortez gave a comment to the publication.
"As someone who's been in a UCLA fraternity, I had hoped that Greek life had more awareness than to host an event where black culture was the theme."
The Los Angeles Times reports that another student, Hanan Worku, was extremely offended by the attire worn by Sigma Phi Epsilon and Alpha Phi and felt that it "demoralized, mocked and dehumanized African Americans."
Though the theme of the party was meant to imitate the celebrity Kanye West, not his race or heritage, the students still felt as though the fraternity men and women were intending to be offensive.
It's more likely that the partygoers were merely aiming for innocent fun rather than malicious deriding of a culture, however, it seems that not much thought was put into the repercussions and social injustice of having a "Kanye Western"-themed party.
[Photos Courtesy of David McNew, Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images & Instagram]